A co-cultured skin model based on cell support membranes

Niann-Tzyy Dai, Ming-Kung Yeh, Demeral David Liu, Eric F. Adams, Chiao-Hsi Chiang, Chung-Yang Yen, Chien-Ming Shih, Huey-Kang Sytwu, Tim-Mo Chen, Hsian-Jenn Wang, M.R. Williamson, A.G.A. Coombes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tissue engineering of skin based on collagen:PCL biocomposites using a designed co-culture system is reported. The collagen:PCL biocomposites having collagen:PCL (w/w) ratios of 1:4, 1:8, and 1:20 have been proven to be biocompatible materials to support both adult normal human epidermal Keratinocyte (NHEK) and mouse 3T3 fibroblast growth in cell culture, respectively, by Dai, Coombes, et al. in 2004. Films of collagen:PCL biocomposites were prepared using non-crosslinking method by impregnation of lyophilized collagen mats with PCL/dichloromethane solutions followed by solvent evaporation. To mimic the dermal/epidermal structure of skin, the 1:20 collagen:PCL biocomposites were selected for a feasibility study of a designed co-culture technique that would subsequently be used for preparing fibroblast/biocomposite/keratinocyte skin models. A 55.3% increase in cell number was measured in the designed co-culture system when fibroblasts were seeded on both sides of a biocomposite film compared with cell culture on one surface of the biocomposite in the feasibility study. The co-culture of human keratinocytes and 3T3 fibroblasts on each side of the membrane was therefore studied using the same co-culture system by growing keratinocytes on the top surface of membrane for 3 days and 3T3 fibroblasts underneath the membrane for 6 days. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and immunohistochemistry assay revealed good cell attachment and proliferation of both human keratinocytes and 3T3 fibroblasts with these two types of cells isolated well on each side of the membrane. Using a modified co-culture technique, a co-cultured skin model presenting a confluent epidermal sheet on one side of the biocomposite film and fibroblasts populated on the other side of the film was developed successfully in co-culture system for 28 days under investigations by SEM and immunohistochemistry assay. Thus, the design of a co-culture system based on 1:20 (w/w) collagen:PCL biocomposite membranes for preparation of a bi-layered skin model with differentiated epidermal sheet was proven in principle. The approach to skin modeling reported here may find application in tissue engineering and screening of new pharmaceuticals. © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)905-908
Number of pages4
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2005


  • biocomposite
  • co-culture
  • collagen
  • fibroblast
  • keratinocyte
  • polycaprolactone


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